Friday, January 18, 2013

With Child, Gem State and Sleepy Seahorse @ Neurolux; The Butcher Boy and Red Hands Black Feet @ the Red Room (1/15/13)

I decided to check this show out mainly because it gave me the chance to see With Child again.  I'd heard that Elijah Jensen had added some new personnel--to wit, his brothers Jeremy and Noah along with Ethan Smith--and was curious to see how this augmented lineup would affect the music.  Also, I was curious about local musician Tim Andreae, whom I'd never encountered before and who was performing with a band under the name Gem State.

I counted about twenty-five people when I arrived at Neurolux.  Another twenty or so would show up as the evening progressed.  I took up my usual spot at the bar and listened to the Talking Heads and Pixies songs on the PA, which were selected by my friend Daphne Stanford.  She hosts The Poetry Show on Radio Boise every Tuesday at 12:30 pm.  She's a pretty good poet herself, though she might deny it.

Sleepy Seahorse opened the night.  The fan of the perverse in me kinda wished that Joey Corsentino had sung with the Jason mask on again, but that's really neither here nor there.  Corsentino's tunes sounded as warm and well-crafted as ever.  The same went for his backing tracks and lyrics.  His voice, however, was in especially fine form.  The slight whine in Corsentino's vocals felt less like a cross to bear and more like a show of empathy for all the sadsacks out there.  It seemed to say, "Look, fellas, I've been there before.  It'll be okay."

Gem State played next.  Tim Andreae's backers (which included Thomas Paul and Mostecelo/Palankeen's Rebeca Suarez) deserve the Jennifer Warnes/Sharon Robinson Award for Most Valuable Backup Singers: their witty, acerbic, angelic interjections went a long way toward making this set halfway tolerable.  Perhaps Andreae's prolix, tuneless story-songs will sound better in their proper order on the album that he said he's working on.  In this context, however, they felt mostly like in-jokes that I wasn't in on.  Even the songs whose melodies/lyrics I liked tended to hang around like a socially inept friend who won't take the hint to go home.  The reedy, slightly smug flatness of Andreae's vocals didn't do them any favors either.

With Child's set threw me for a loop.  Having seen/heard the Jensen boys in various capacities last year, I expected that the tunes would be as solid as rock candy.  I was completely unprepared, however, for  Jeremy Jensen's piercing solos, for Noah Jensen's fluid, melodic basslines and for Ethan Smith's propulsive drumming.  As for Elijah Jensen, he seemed to be in a particularly rowdy mood: he flipped off his trademark mesh cap, got some sharp interplay going with Jeremy and put some extra lung power into his charming croon.  He also dropped the F-bomb a few times, which apparently caused the live broadcast of the show to get cut off.  Personally, I gotta give the man props: that was easily the most punk rock thing that has happened at any Radio Boise Tuesday show.  It was just too fuckin' bad that the folks at home probably didn't hear the part where Elijah Jensen got everyone to shout, "I LOVE YOU!" or the ten-minute-plus jangle/Spector/surf/disco mash-up finale.  Wrote it for his mom, Elijah Jensen said.  She should be proud.

One upside to being unemployed right now: I can see a show at Neurolux and then swing by the Red Room without having to worry about getting up the next morning.  That's exactly what I did this night after With Child wrapped.

I arrived in time to catch the tail end of the Butcher Boy's set.  Between this Maine band's obnoxiously flat vocals, dirge-y guitar riffs and toy xylophone, however, I might have been better off hanging out at Neurolux for just a little longer.  Their music was clearly well-crafted and not quite as insular as Gem State's, but it still got pretty annoying.  Maybe if I'd seen the whole set...  Then again, maybe not.

Red Hands Black Feet closed out the Red Room's show with a typically solid performance.  They brooded their way through their newest song, made "Django's Last Ride" yowl and shriek and stretched out the intro to "This is What You Get When You Befriend a Stranger in the Alps" like they were pulling taffy.  The fifty-plus people in the crowd whooped and hollered it up.  A fine way to end the night.  I kinda missed "Sink the Bismarck," but I imagine that I'll hear it again sometime soon (and not just because I picked up a copy of their album, which is also available on Bandcamp now).

You can find info on these acts on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Radio Boise.

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